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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Welcome Mr Loscombe

Congratulations to Mr John Loscombe on his appointment to Scranton City Council. Article Here. In a field full of people who were interested in the position, it appears that existing council members decided to pick someone out of left-field. Or was it?

To the uneducated about the drama that is Scranton, it's important to provide a bit of context here: Scranton's Mayor Chris Doherty has had an on-going struggle with unionized firefighters and policemen. He has also been roundly criticized by current Council President Janet Evans for years.

So is this really an unexpected pick? Perhaps by name yes, but by profile no. Given the drama noted above, it makes perfect sense for Council President Janet Evans to pick someone with strong ties to the firefighters union to fill this vacancy. For someone intent on "sticking it to" the Mayor at every turn, this is as logical a move as is possible. As the old saying goes, "to the victor goes the spoils", and Mayor Doherty has orchestrated favorable council vacancy picks himself in the past, so there is nothing inherently wrong with Mr Loscombe's selection.

The real issue here is this: for about the 10,000th time, Scranton has a budget where the cost of running the city outstrips the revenue that the city collects. You can't increase on-going costs, like salaries, and pay for it by via nebulous claims of "cutting fat". That's a political gimmick that's as old as the hills, and quite frankly it's an insult to the intelligence of city taxpayers. When last I checked, there isn't a budget line called "fat", but there are several budget lines centering around employee costs.

So the challenge is this: Mr Loscombe has step up and let the taxpayers know that he represents all of us, not just his brothers in Local 60. Some independence is needed as well. Former members of council were roundly criticized for marching lock-n-step with the Mayor's wishes, and you know what? At times that was reasonable commentary. However, is marching lock-n-step with the wishes on Mrs Evans any different?

Scranton has a history of "political bosses", and simply adding the name of Janet Evans to that list serves no one's best interests (except of course the interests of Janet Evans). Mr Loscombe has an opportunity to be an independent voice for taxpayers who can make a difference. Let's hope that he does.

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